Special Olympics MENA Games Abu Dhabi: 1000 participants to benefit from Healthy Athletes initiative

David Cooper 18/03/2018
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Athletes at the Special Olympics MENA Games will benefit from the Healthy Athletes initiative.

Around 1,000 athletes participating in the Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018 and 500 people with intellectual disabilities from Abu Dhabi who are not Special Olympics athletes were today officially invited to take part in Healthy Athletes®, made possible by the Golisano Foundation.

HE Prof Dr. Maha Barakat, Senior Advisor, Abu Dhabi Executive Office, announced that athletes taking part in the games who have a range of untreated conditions, including hearing, dental and sight problems, will receive free treatment as well as medical aids.

“The Healthy Athletes Programme is a free programme providing health screenings and education for Special Olympics athletes. The importance of this is to uncover problems that are unbeknown to the individual.

“The host city Abu Dhabi, along with public and private sector partners like the Golisano Foundation, have generously contributed to cover the costs of the screenings.

“If we find untreated dental decay, we will treat it. If we find athletes with reduced hearing, they will be given free hearing aids. If we find that they have visual problems that can be corrected with medical glasses, they will be given medical glasses and we also have a series of health promotions stations that will give advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

“The aim of these free programmes is that the athletes don’t just come to compete in the games, but that they return to their different countries in better health and with healthier lifestyles.”

Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International, who travelled to the UAE for the IX MENA Games, welcomed the athletes to take part in free health screenings conducted by a team of local health clinicians.
“We are here to meet the athletes face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart and to end the labelling that leads to discrimination and marginalization once and for all.”

Dr Shriver praised the UAE for its commitment to inclusion across every segment of society. “The term ‘disability’ has been erased here in the UAE – it has been replaced with ‘determination’,” he said.

Special Olympics IX MENA Games are open to members of the public and free to attend, with around 25,000 spectators expected to visit the Games. More than 1,000 athletes from 31 countries are currently in Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games.

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All smiles: The winners

Local and international riders competed in the sixth round of the 2018 UAE Aquabike Championship at Mercato Beach.

Competitors from Britain, France, Hungary, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Sweden, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco and the UAE competed in the competition which was organised by DIMC.

Among those to win were Kevin Reiterer of Austria who came out on top in the Ski Division GP1. He edged Steven Dolliac of France while his compatriot Maurin Raphael finished third.

There was something to celebrate for the UAE in the Runabout GP3. Khalid Al Mazmi won the event, ahead of Mani’e Al Marzouqi with Amer Hawair in third position.

More success continued for the hosts in the Ski Division. UAE’s Sultan Eisa Al Hamadi did just enough to hold off Kuwait’s Nawaf Al Farhan. His Kuwaiti team-mate Salem Ayman Al Mutawa sealed third position.

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Dubai Dragons go into Friday’s AFL Middle East Grand Final bidding to capture a sixth title in seven years when they face the Multiplex Bulls at the Sevens Stadium.

This is a repeat of last year’s decider which Dragons won in a very tight match, but Bulls have grown in confidence and look a more composed outfit since their maiden season in 2015.

The teams have met twice this season, with the Dragons prevailing on both occasions, but both were in tight contests with the defending champions winning by a combined margin of only 29 points.

And if the Dragons can attain the same level of dominance around the middle this weekend, they will be hard to handle.

With Nick Kissane, Spencer Whitaker and Travis Hayward pulling the strings from defence to midfield, they have the opportunity to unleash the significant qualities of Ryan Perkins in attack.

Dragons coach Rich Wharton is relishing the prospect of clinching a record-breaking fourth successive title, telling Sport360: “We’re super excited and know that it’s going to be a very tough game.

“We’re confident that if we play with the intensity and teamwork that we’ve shown all year, we’ll be a very good chance.

“We’ve enjoyed the rivalry we’ve built with the Bulls and it seems to get bigger and bigger each year.

He added: “Make no mistake, we know the Bulls will be throwing everything they’ve got at us and whichever way it goes it’s going to be a brutal contest.”

This should be an enthralling, tight game, with Nathan Holly’s Bulls sure to be resilient.

In many ways they have looked a more effective team since losing against their rivals in round two and five, hammering Abu Dhabi Falcons and Dubai Dingoes by a staggering combined 140 points in their past two fixtures.

In George Rahhal, Nick Burchell, Jack Egan and Ted Stobart, Bulls have key men who pose a threat with and without the ball.

“Following the round five loss to the Dragons we’ve had 20 plus players to every training session which is encouraging in itself,” said captain and coach Holly.

“Then to go on and play the way we did in the final round of the season against the Dingoes really showed how much this group of guys want it this year.”

“With nothing to lose this year I expect to see the guys play with more confidence and convert the chances that we’ve missed in prior grand finals.

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